Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy of GHANA
"The best friend of earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth." - Frank Lloyd Wright
After over 40 years of implementing the 1948 Forest policy which had led to a trend towards what some early forest researchers had called the “timberisation” of forestry, there was the need for a new direction in managing Ghana's forest resources. How did it happen? Let's continue with our journey............
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ghana’s forests were under excessive exploitation, illegal harvesting led by chain saw operators was flourishing excessively and prescribed harvesting procedures were being flouted with impunity. Worst of all, forestry institutions had become demoralized and inefficient because of continued underfunding. Concerns and agitations from major stakeholders and growing global interests in forest loss culminated in the revision of the old forest policy and eventually, the new Forest and Wildlife policy in 1994 (MLF, 1994).
The overall aim of the Forest and Wildlife Policy, 1994, is conservation and sustainable development of the nation's forest and wildlife for maintenance of environmental quality and perpetual flow of benefits to all parts of society. The two fold aim of environmental quality and sustainable benefits had the following specific objectives:
i) Management and improvement of Ghana's permanent forest estate for preservation of soil and water, conservation of biological diversity, environmental stability and sustainable production of domestic and commercial products;
ii) Promotion of efficient forest-based industries, in secondary and tertiary processing, to use timber and other products from forests and wildlife and satisfy domestic and international demand with competitively priced products;
iii) Promotion of public awareness and involvement of rural people in forest and wildlife conservation to maintain life-sustaining systems, preserve scenic areas and enhance potential for recreation, tourism and income generating opportunities.
iv) Promotion of research-based and technology-led forestry and wildlife management to ensure forest sustainability, socio-economic growth and environmental stability;
v) Development of effective capacity and competence at district, regional and national levels for sustainable management of forest and wildlife.
This is 2011 so Ghana has been guided by the 1994 policy for about 17 years. There are issues to think about and the major ones are:
1. How has this policy contributed in the conservation and sustainable development of the nation's forest and wildlife for maintenance of environmental quality and perpetual flow of benefits to all parts of society?
2. Is it time for reviewing the policy or we need to wait for about 40 years.
3. Is the current Forest and Wildlife Policy still relevant in the climate change era?
"Clear cutting of our forests should be illegal, selective harvesting should be employed." - Catherine Pulisfer